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WANGARI’S TREES OF PEACE by Jeanette Winter

WANGARI’S TREES OF PEACE

A True Story from Africa

By Jeanette Winter (Author) , Jeanette Winter (Illustrator)

Age Range: 4 - 7

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-15-206545-4
Publisher: Harcourt

Nobel Peace Prize–winner Wangari Maathai’s work to reverse the deforestation of Kenya garners Winter’s signature treatment: a spare, reverential text and stylized, reductionist paintings. The present-tense narration posits Wangari’s thoughts and inserts unattributed quotations: “Will all of Kenya become a desert? she wonders as her tears fall.” “The government men laugh. ‘Women can’t do this,’ they say.” Wangari is imprisoned for her actions, but while she is textually and visually depicted in jail and then on the next spread free within the treed landscape, the text makes no mention of her release. Possibly most egregious in this day and age is the image of Wangari standing within an undifferentiated Africa while to the north, Europe is depicted with rudimentary national boundaries. While the effort of producing an intelligible picture-book biography for young children inevitably involves the selection of just a small number of details, this sere distillation is arguably more inspiring story than biography. For a contrast in depth and documentation, see Claire A. Nivola’s recent Planting the Trees of Kenya: The Story of Wangari Maathai (2008). (author’s note) (Picture book/biography. 4-7)